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ident Ulmanis came to us, the members of the Cabinet, and we all knew
that when we left the room that we would never meet again.

I was asked by my colleagues to make a short sentence to President
Ulmanis. As I started to speak it was the only time in this tragic


period that tlie President lost his nerve. He covered his eyes with his
hands and said, "Well, I know what you would like to say, but we can-
not afford to be weak because the days ahead will be tragic days. We
must bring up all our mental and physical forces to stand these days
which are still coming, the occupation by the Red army.

On Wednesday the 19th, I went back to my office. On Wednesday
nothing else important happened.

On Thursday, June 20, at 10 o'clock, the Vishinsky puppet govern-
ment took over all the power in our country. In my ministi'y came
the man to succeed me, Blaus, and this man I know well because he was
my room mate in military school in 1920.

Mr. Kersten. You mentioned something about a demonstration in
the public square. What date was that?

Mr. Berzins. It was afternoon, the 17th of June.

Mr. Kersten. Was there another occasion when some people were
brought out from jail?

Mr. Berzins. It was the 21st of June, Friday, 2 days later.

Mr. Kersten. Go ahead.

Mr. Berzins. Blaus was pale and tired when he came in. I said,
"What happened to you ; you're pale, today. Were you drinking all

He said, "No, I was working very hard all night. I translated the
speeches which will be given today, Kirchensteins, himself, and War
Minister Dambitis."

The speeches were made in the Soviet Embassy by Vishinsky and
Vieteroff. He could translate these speeches, and if any sentence
wasn't right, he was to change it.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, Vishinsky had written some speeches
in Russian, I assume, which he had to translate, and these speeches
were to be given by the members of the new puppet government ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct.

Mr. Kersten. This was Vishinsky speaking through his puppet?

Mr. Berzins. Yes ; it was Vishinsky speaking through these puppet

Mr. McTiGUE. And the new minister stayed up practically all night
long translating from the Russian into Latvian the speeches that were
to be given the next day at the Parliament session, so that they could
give it in Latvian ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. I asked whether Latvia was to be independent.
He said yes, but he said, "We don't make one step without asking Mr.
Vishinsky in the Soviet Embassy."

The new government was under the strongest control of Andrei
Vishinsky. At the same time, at 10 o'clock, on the 20th of June,
General Bolsteins shot himself to death. He was head of our Border
Guard organization, and was head of the Latvian Liberation organi-
zation. He was the first victim of the Soviet invasion in Latvia. He
wrote three letters, my friends later told me, which were sent to men
under him in his staff. One letter was for his officers, one was to his
old mother, and a third was to his superiors. He did not mention the
new minister.

In tliis letter, he said that he was fighting for free Latvia, and
worked for free Latvia and "I will not live in a Latvia enslaved by


In 2 or 3 days, tlie Riga papers, which were uiuler control from the
first days, spoke not one word about this tragic death.

On the third or fourth day, approximately, there was a short notice
that Bolstein had died of a heart attack. Vishinsky started his lies
from the first minute he came in. Each day the lies were repeated by
this man.

This same day I was in the castle once more to say goodbye to Presi-
dent Ulmanis, and met in the lobby the new President, Kirchensteins.
Kirchensteins was very busy and I exchanged only some words with

When the Communists were trying to organize manifestations on
the same day, the 20th of June, so-called Thanksgiving demonstra-
tions from Riga people to Vishinsky, to cheer him and the new gov-
ernment, they tried that, but the workers did not leave their work-
shops so they could not start, and tlie demonstrations were not organ-
ized on the 20th of June.

On the 21st were released some Communists and criminals from
Riga jail.

Mr. Kerstex. Just a minute, please.

At this point, sir, would you like to step aside? We would like
to identify some photographs. After you do that, we will call you
back again.

(The witness was temporarily excused.)

Mr. McTiGUE. Will Mr. Jekste step forward, please?

Mr. Kersten. Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Jekste, I do.


Mr. Kersten, Will you state your full name ?

Mr, Jekste. Alberts Jekste.

Mr. Kersten. "Wliere is your present home?

Mr. Jekste, My present home is Latvia, Riga.

Mr. Kersten. That is your home? And how long has it been since
you have been there?

Mr. Jekste. I was born in

Mr. Kersten (interposing). How long has it been since you have
been in Latvia ?

Mr. Jekste. I was the last time in Latvia, in 1945, April 19.

Mr. Kersten. Where do you now live?

Mr. Jekste, I live in Baltimore, Md.

Mr. Kersten. How long have you been in Baltimore ?

Mr. Jekste. In Baltimore, from February 1952.

Mr. Kersten. Where were you before that time ?

Mr. Jekste. Before this time I was like a DP, in Germany.

Mr. Kersten. When you were in Latvia last, what was your busi-
ness there ?

Mr. Jekste. My last business was a cameraman.

Mr. Kersten. Do you mean movie camera?

Mr, Jekste, Movie camera.

Mr. Kersten. Did you belong to some organization or company?


Mr. Jekste. Yes. Before I was a director in the film company,
and since 1928 I organized in Latvia the fihn and photographical and
optical industries.

Mr. Kersten. Were you in Riga, Latvia, in the months of June
and July 1940?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Did you take some moving pictures at that time?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Will you just step forward, here?

I show you, Mr. Jekste, a series of photographs, commencing with
one marked 6-A, and they will be marked 6-A through 6-ZZ.

(The 30 photographs referred to were marked "Exhibits 6-A
through 6-Z, 6AA through 6CC, and 6-ZZ." See pp. 541-558.)

Mr. Kersten. Do you recognize these photographs ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Were these photographs taken from some movies that
you took ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes. These I not alone took, but these were taken
under my direction by 10 other people.

Mr. Kersten. So these 30 photographs that I show you now are
from a movie taken under your direction?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And was this movie taken in the month of June 1940,
in Riga ?

Mr. Jekste. In Riga.

Mr. Kersten. I will show you 6-A, and ask you if you recognize

Mr. Jekste. Yes. That is when the Russian hordes were coming
into Riga.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, this is an actual photograph of the
Russian Army coming into Riga in the month of June?

Mr. Jekste. The I7tli of June.

Mr. Kersten. You have heard the testimony of Mr. Berzins here,
is that correct ?

Mr. Jekste. That is correct.

Mr. Kersten. And the events that he is talking about, are they the
same events that these pictures portray ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. I show you one picture here in the series, and I think
it is the fourth one, 6-D, a picture of a mob scene. Is that correct?

Mr. Jekste. Yes. This picture of the mob scene is not taken by
movie camera. This is taken by film.

Mr. Kersten. Is this the mob described by the witness, organized
througli the Soviet Embassy in Riga?

Mr. Jekste. The Embassy and fifth column.

Mr. Kersten. By the Communist fifth column ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Now, I show you 6-F.

Mr. Jekste. Tliis picture is one of the state jail.

Mr. Kersten. In otlier words, it would appear to be a picture of men
dressed in prisoners' uniforms?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.


Mr. Keksten. You heard the testimony of the witness, saying that
prisoners were taken from the jails, common criminals?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Is this a picture of that same event?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Of the criminals coming from the jails when the
Communists took over?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. I show you the next picture 6-G.

Mr. Jekste. This is Vishinsky speaking from the balcony of the
Embassy in Riga.

Mr. Kersten. He is being cheered ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes. In this speech, which I can remember, he said
that the people of the fifth column are crying in the streets for a real
election for Russia, that, Vishinsky replied, Latvia will stay for all
time free.

Mr. KJERSTEN. Was this picture of Vishinsky from the balcony taken
on the same day of the pictures of the criminals released from the

Mr. Jekste. I think so, yes.

Mr. Kersten. And the mob in the square ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes. Here you can see standing the mob.

Mr. Kersten. I show you number 6-H in the series. Can you iden-
tify that?

Mr. Jekste. Yes. This picture was taken on the third day of July,

Mr. Kersten. What is this picture that I now show you ?

Mr. Jekste. This is the criminal photograph.

Mr. Kersten. In other words, this is a police picture of a criminal ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes, a criminal with 2 years and 1 month in the jail.
Later, he was an official in the city government.

Mr. KJERSTEN. What was he in jail for?

Mr. Jekste. He was a thief.

Mr. Kersten. I show you exhibit 6-1, and ask you if you know
what that is ?

Mr. Jekste. This is another criminal who was 6 years in jail. He
was a bandit, a robber. Later, he was made chief of police in the sec-
ond largest city of Latvia.

Mr. Kersten. I show you exhibit 6-J. What is this ?

Mr. Jekste. This man was in for 3 years and 6 months. He was
later the chief of foreign review in Riga.

Mr. I^rsten. What was his crime?

Mr. Jekste. It is also thief and robber, and he served around 3 years
and 6 months.

Mr. Kersten. The last 3 exhibits, 6-H, 6-1, and 6-J, were all taken
from the police files ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes, from the police files, in July 1941.

Mr. McTiGUE. In order to clear the record, these criminals were
later appointed by the Communists, to various high positions in gov-
ernment, such as chief of police ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes, appointed by the puppet government.

Mr. Kersten. I show you exhibit 6-K, and ask if you know what
that is.


Mr. Jekste. This picture we got from the Russian archives. This
is the moment in which Kirchensteins is speaking in the Supreme
Soviet in Moscow, and asks for the election of Latvia into the Soviet

Mr. Kersten^, This picture of the Latvian Public President, speak-
ing in Moscow, also seems to be a picture of Mr. Molotov and other
Soviet officials ; is that correct ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes ; that is correct.

Mr. Kersten. In looking at all of these pictures, can you identify
all of them as having been taken from the movie, the taking of which
movie you supervised?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. And are true and correct portrayals of events they
purport to show ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Taken for the most part — as they indicate — that
most of the pictures are pictures taken in Riga, Latvia?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Others are taken in Moscow, all in connection with
these same Latvian events ?

Mr. Jekste. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. That is all.

All right, Mr. Berzins.

(The Jekste exhibit will be found on pp. 541-558.)


Mr. McTiGUE. We were at a point in your testimony where you
were talking about your return from President Ulmanis' castle during
the course of which you had seen these demonstrations and witnessed
release of criminals.

We have now identified certain of the scenes which you refer to in
your testimony. Will you pick your testimony up from that point?

Mr. Berzins. On the 21st of June was organized demonstrations
and there was released some Communist criminals in Riga's jail.
Factory owners were told that they would be responsible if the work-
ers did not leave the factories and participate in this demonstration.
The Communists organized the Riga people for these demonstrations.

The criminals from the Riga jail were going to cheer the chief,
Vishinsky. So the first march from the prison was to Andrei
Vishinsky to Soviet Embassy of these criminals. One group of these
criminals some days later received high positions, especially among
the police in Riga.

Mr. Kersten. Do you know of some of these common criminals who
were released from the jails, who were appointed to positions in the
police department?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Can you give us the names of some of them?

Mr. Berzins. One I remember was Celmins.

Mr. Kersten. What was he in jail for ? Do you know ?

Mr. Berzins. He was sentenced most frequently as a thief.

Mr. Kersten, What kind of position in the Communist government
did he get?

Mr. Berzins. He received a high position in the police.


Mr. Kersten. Where?

Mr. Bei;zins. So far as I remember, lie was in Riga.

Mr. IvFJtsTEN. A part of the city of Riga ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Do j'ou know what part?

Mr. Berzins. One of the thieves was in the second district.

Mr. Kersten. What was Gutmanis convicted for ?

Mr. Berzins. He was convicted as a thief, too.

He was put in jail for o years. He was in the second district in
Riga. The second district in Riga was the more important, because
in this district was located all Government buildings.

Mr. Kersi-en. So that the head of the police in the second district,
which included all of the Government buildings, was a criminal, a
common thief who had been released from this jail by Vishinsky, and
put in this position of power over this area ?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct, Mr. Chairman. Vishinsky made a
speech to this mob of criminals Avho were coming to cheer him as
"liberator." At this time I was in my home and listened by radio to
this speech. During this speech there was some yell by the people,
''Long live Soviet Latvia in the Soviet Union."

Vishinsky spoke in the Russian language and he said to someone on
the balcony, "The hooligans are drunk."

Mr. Kersten. You were listening to Vishinsky's speech, and some-
body in the background made this remark about "Long live Soviet
Latvia," and Vishinsky then said something in Russian?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. He said, "The hooligans are drunk."

In all this thing which was organized by Vishinsky in the first days
w^ere all the speeches that Latvia would be independent, and all this
incorporation came some days later.

Mr. Kersten. Li other words, Vishinsky didn't want to let the
cat out of the bag at that point, that Latvia was being conquered by
the Communists?

Mr. McTiGUE. He hadn't meant to be heard by the radio audience?
He whispered to one of his aides in a loud voice, "Drunlvcn hooligans"?

Mr. Berzins. That is correct. His speech, Vishinky, jSnished in
the Latvian language. All the speech was in Russian, but the last
sentence was in Latvian, and this was, "Long live independent Latvia
and friendship between independent Latvia and the Soviet Union."

This liar Vishinsliy, knows very well when he came from Moscow
to Riga that he was sent from this Kremlin gang to oppress the Lat-
vian people. But he used other words, later, to the effect that Latvia
would be and would stay an independent country. So, I have all the
rights to call publicly Mr. Vishinsky the greatest liar.

Demonstrations from the Soviet Embassy moved to Kirchensteins
and afterward, from Kirchensteins to Rigan Castle, and there were
demonstrations against President Karlis Ulmanis.

Mr. McTiGUE. Tell us about your parting with President Ulmanis,
when you went into the forest of Latvia ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes, I will tell you.

In the river was a Russian warship. The guns were pointed at the

Mr. McTiGUE. The guns of the warship lying in the river below
were pointed on President Ulmanis' castle ?

52975— 54— pt. 1 6


Mr, Berzins. Yes. I was in my home and I had a feeling that this
old man might need some moral support in these hours. I left my
home and I saw these demonstrations, because I came into the castle
before 7 o'clock and saw President Ulmanis. He was quiet. He had
not worked. He was reading one book, some philosophy. I asked
him about his feeling. He told me, "I myself, I am clear. My life is
finished, but I don't know what will happen to all honest Latvian pa-
triots who were fighting for independent Latvia, which is worth all the
20 happy years for independent Latvia."

I left after some 2 hours or so, I left Ulmanis to come home, and on
the 20th of June I left Riga for my farm which was located some 50
kilometers south of Riga. I was 2 days, to the 2od of June, I spent
on my farm, but I do not believe Communists because in my youth as a
schoolboy in 1918, I saw for the first time this gang of murderers,
which is called ideologically "Communists."

I was a schoolboy in Valka, and as Communists came in, there were
rumors in the town that there were killed some 100, more or less,
people. I myself and some schoolmates were going to look at this.
It was a terrible truth. On one road was found about 100 people.
Between them was the old pastor of Valka and some other people
which I know, personally. All the people were innocent and were
killed with hand grenades and machine guns, and in this year 1918, I
saw for the first time the real face of Communists.

Mr. Kersten. You were at your farm, there, in June. How many
days did you remain there ?

Mr. Berzins. I was two days on the farm.

Mr. Kersten. Then what did you do ?

Mr. Berzins. Then I went to the forest.

Mr. Kersten. For how long did you remain in the forest ?

Mr. Berzins. I remained in the forest through the 29th of June.

Mr. Kersten. Then what happened ?

Mr. Berzins. Then came to me one of my officers, the only one who
knew where I was.

Mr. Kersten. What happened, then ?

Mr. Berzins. He told me that Blaus has called my son on the tele-
phone and told him that Vieteroff wanted to see me.

Mr. Kersten. He was the NKVD man ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes ; and he was the righthand of Vishinsky in thop**

Mr. Kersten. Did you finally get to see Vieteroff, then ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Where ?

Mr. Berzins. Between Riga and Yelgava, on the highway.

Mr. Kersten. Then what happened ?

Mr. Berzins. I left this place in the forest and Blaus said to my
sons that he hoped nothing would happen bad with me. He said that
for me and my colleagues it would be vei-y useful to know what Vieter-
off and Vishinsky are thinking and to know what happens.

Mr. Kersten. So you decided to take a chance to see Vieteroff ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Tell us what took place.

Mr. Berzins. I came to this place where I might meet Vieteroff.
I was crossing the highway between Riga and Yelgava.

Mr. Kersten. You did see him later, did you?


Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. Wliere?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. I come to Riga and Blaus connected me with
Vieteroff. I met Vieteroff approximately 2 o'clock or a little later,
June 29, in Blaus' house.

Mr. Kersten, What was tlie conversation between you and Vieter-
off, then?

Mr. Berzins. It was very short in Blaus' apartment. Vieteroff
asked me what is my feelino; and I said, "So far as I know, you have
no interest in my feeling, and it would be shortest if you tell me what
you like of me."

Vieteroff answered that this was not the place where we could talk
about it and asked to come at 10 o'clock, Blaumnu Street 9, a part of
Riga. I came to this house at 10 o'clock. Vieteroff met me at the
door and took me to the third or fourth floor — I don't know which.
On tlie door was the name "Jemelnov." It looks Russian because it
is a Russian family.

He brought me in one room. In the dining room was table and on
the table were 2 bottles of red wine — 1 Russian and 1 French red wine.
There was 1 box of cigarettes — Camels — and 2 glasses.

Mr. Kersten. American cigarettes were there?

Mr. Berzins. American cigarettes because the Russians like them.
The Communists, so far when they are with workers, they are poor,
but they like American cigarettes and French wines and champagnes,
and so on.

Mr. Kersten. So you had a talk with Vieteroff there?

Mr. Berzins. Yes. Vieteroff offered to me some wine to drink. I
told him that I am not drinking — that I don't like to drink some
alcohol. I said to him, "You can choose which one you like to drink."
The choice of Vieteroff was the French wine. He filled my glass with
the red wine and his, too. I was suspicious that in this glass was
something. I put before him my glass and brought his glass. Vieter-
off drank out of this glass of wine, but was not speaking not one word
about this. After, Vieteroff asked me if I might sign one testimony
that Latvia has one secret agreement with Nazi Germany.

We have no secret agreements; not with Nazi Germany, not with
some other country. I answered that it is not true, that I cannot
sign such a testimony. I said the best man to ask was the Foreign
Minister. The answer was that I was the right hand of President
Ulmanis, that I knew all that happens in government, and that they
don't need to ask someone else. "You know, and you may sign."

I refused to sign this testimony. When I left this day Vieteroff —
Vieteroff said at this time I might go home, since it was about 12
o'clock at night and he said at the door, "You don't forget you have
family, too, and in your hands is the future of you and j^our family."

He told me that he supposed on the second day — the second day was
Sunday — I will be so wise as to sign this testimony.

Mr. Kersten. As I understand it, he wanted you to sign a state-
ment to the effect that Latvia was in some kind of a secret agreement
that was against the Soviets?

Mr. Berzins. Yes.

Mr. Kersten. You were here earlier this morning when this little
excerpt was played from Vishinsky's speech which was translated and
which, according to that translation, Vishinsky claimed that the Baltic


nations were in secret agreements against the Soviets. You heard
that; did you?

Mr. Berzins. Yes ; that is correct.

Mr. Kersten. And this is the type of agreement they were trying
to get you to sign at that time ; is that right ?

Mr. Berzins. Yes ; to press me to sign such a one.

So, Sunday at 10 : 30 I came the second time to meet Vieteroff.
Vieteroff was very arrogant from the beginning. "You might forget
that you were once Minister. You will be no more member of the
Latvian Cabinet because never will there be an independent Latvia."

He took from his pocket this envelope and put it on the table and
said, "You will sign it or not?"

I said, "No ; I will not sign." I answered to him that if I am stay-
ing in my country I might be killed, too, by the Soviets.

We talked again for 2 hours. Shortly before 12 o'clock, Mr. Vieter-
off sent me home and told me that he will give me 1 chance more to
think about his proposal, and he hoped — he said I will be so wise and
I would not refuse.

I said, "Well, I will come." Vieteroff would like for me to come
Monday. I said I could not come Monday because I had work, that
I could come after 1 week.

It was on the next Sunday. So I get some days' time.

Mr. McTiGUE. You had about a week's time, then ?

Mr. Berzins. I got 1 week.

On Monday at 5 o'clock I saw the last time my President, Karlis
Ulmanis. The doors in the castle were guarded by Communists.
There was a small door

]\Ir. Kersten. You got up to see him and did you have a talk
with him?

Mr. Berzins. Yes ; I had a talk. I used the secret doors and I had
the last talk. It was between 5 and 7 o'clock, the 1st of July 1940.
Ulmanis ordered me to leave the country if it is possible, on the
same day, and at 7 o'clock I saw this great Latvian patriot for the
last time.

I came home and told my wife that Ulmanis had ordered me to go
out of the country, and I asked what my wife thought about it. The
answer was that it was the only way, because my staying would be
for the family more dangerous than my going out of the country.

The family I could not leave because it was 2 weeks after the Com-
munists occupied all 3 Baltic countries.

I left Riga on the same night at 10 o'clock, and I succeeded in coming
to Sweden.

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